Monday, August 31, 2009

it's hailing men

I swear it was only hailing at MY HOUSE. Big hail. This sized hail:

Not only was it only hailing at my house, but after it hailed and stopped enough for me to snatch these pictures it started hailing AGAIN. Cecilia and I were going to a dinner party on the same night as hail night. As soon as it cleared up we loaded the car and it started hailing and raining HARDER and SIDEWAYS.

Once the hail stopped we decided to brave the monsoon type rain to make it to our friend's house because she swore it rained "maybe a drop" but was really windy where she was not 10 miles away.

I kid you not, as soon as we got out of Bressanvido and passed through Pioanella the roads were dry. The traffic lights weren't out. No other cars had their headlights on. The sky even had blue spots in it like pregnant pee stick the ho bag the sky is.

The kids went back to school today. This is one of the happiest days of the whole entire year for me. We spent all day cleaning the center and getting things organized. I love getting things organized. I really should have taken before and after pictures. Blast me and my too late thinking.

Happy Monday. :)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Yesterday at the zoo

Yesterday I got to go on the field trip with the kids to the zoo. Apparently this zoo is 2 towns over from my house and I had no idea. It was super cute.

All of our kids are supposed to wear the bright yellow shirts we provide (as do the adults) so we can easily spot our kids out of the crowds.

This llama either just had a baby girl or just fathered a baby girl. See that pink bow? Italian decorate their houses and cars with these at times of celebrations. Pink for girls, blue for boys and white for weddings.

There she is in there.

This little pony was definitely a boy and definitely sweet.

See this kid? We had this conversation when we first got off the bus:

Kid: Do you have a boyfriend?
Me: I have a husband.
Kid: Good. Because I have a girlfriend.
Me: Well, I'm glad we got that out of the way.

It's a good thing I didn't put my non-existent moves on an 11-year-old. Ladies, he's taken.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Birth

This page was a result of a journal prompt asking to write about what it is like to birth something.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Excited to get started

There's a lot of big changes coming up for me soon: new school year, new PWOC year, another deployment, another year in Italy. I think normally, if I didn't live the life I do, I'd be extremely adverse to change. But being thrust into this life of constant and DRASTIC change has been one of the best things to happen to me in my short life. I have grown spiritually and in my faith. I have gotten stronger and more patient.

A lot of people are dreading this deployment. I am excited about it. I'm exited for the new things that are going to be birthed in me because of the difficulties I know I'm going to go through. I'm excited for my husband's opportunity at a prestigious leadership opportunity that I know he will excel at (because he always does).

Soon I'm going to make my deployment list. Every deployment (or long training) I make a list of things to challenge myself even further in a positive way. I'm going to post my list here when it is finalized. This blog is on the list and I'm already making great strides with it.

I can't wait to get started on the next big difficulty in my life.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

SAS Carnevale

Every summer at the childcare center where I work we receive college interns from the States to help us with our all day camps.

Yesterday was their last day. We had a BBQ and carnevale (Italian of course).

Sweet faces, no? The kids put on a show of songs with sign language. All summer they've been learning and signing these songs.

Next week is going to be crazy without the interns help. We're going to have all these rug rats and no college-aged buffer. I'm guessing with the hubs gone and the interns gone my mental health number is going to be 111 out of 100.

Much prayer is appreciated.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Content with my choices

At the beginning of the year I decided to be happy. I wasn’t particularly UNHAPPY before I decided to be happy. Every once in a while I’d get those moods or those events that would ruin the rest of the day or even week. I didn’t want any more ruined days. I especially didn’t want any more ruined weeks.

When someone gave me good news about their life I wanted to be genuinely happy for them, not jealous and bitter. When something happened to make me angry or offended I decided in that critical moment not to react negatively. I decided instead to shake off my worries and think on good things. Lovely things. What I’m grateful for.

But it all comes down to that moment right after whatever makes you upset happens. In that moment you can choose. Choose to brood and yell and murmur or no matter how much people don’t want to believe it’s possible, you can react graciously, lovingly, happily.

People have noticed the change in me and asked me what’s happened. How do I stay so happy all the time? I have help, through my faith, to choose the right answer. The response usually is, “I couldn’t do that.” Really, I think people just don’t want to. They want to be selfish and throw a fit and be unhappy and want everyone around them to be unhappy as well. I’ll be honest with you. It feels good to give in to that temper tantrum. It feels good to wallow. I understand it’s hard. But it feels better to be happy.

This week has been especially hard for me to stay happy. One nuisance after another more than anything else: running out of checks when rent’s due and having to get the money from the ATM over a number of days, getting pulled over for expired insurance even though I called the insurance company ahead of time and they sent me my current card instead of my new one, working 9-10 hours a day to cover for a co-worker who’s boyfriend just got back from Iraq. Little things can add up to make you unhappy. It’s not that your life is bad, it’s just a bother.

Choosing to be happy this week has been hard. Honestly, it feels better to be happy.

What choices are you making?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Leadership Training

On Saturday I organized a leadership training for Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) where I hold a position on the board.

That sounds a lot fancier than it really is.

PWOC is my refuge. This is the only group of women that I have experienced in my short time living in a military community that have welcomed me without once asking who my husband is. It's full of women that want to get to know me. It's refreshing.

This is me and Lou. She's british. She shared my table at the training. Notice how much bigger my head is than hers? My husband teases me about my "big dome". And then I tickle him until he says I have a normal sized head.

It's a beautiful cycle really.

We had a lot of team building exercises, which were a lot of fun. These five ladies are all acting as one finger on a hand.

It's a lot harder having 5 individuals working together than having 5 members of the same body working together.

A good lesson.

Although their result really wasn't bad.

I can't wait for the kickoff of the new PWOC year on Tuesday, September 8th. If you live in the area, please come!

Monday, August 17, 2009

And the winners are...

Congrats to Tracee! She won the coffee/vase gift.

Also congrats to Becca! She won the book/journal gift.

Please send me your full name and mailing address to nikki (dot) demarco (at)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Storm love

Last night we had one of the first good hail storms of the summer, and it's August already. Usually we've had 3 or 4 strong storms already.

2 years ago right after my husband deployed the hail storm was so bad that hail was coming in under my balcony door. My balcony door to my covered and walled in on three sides balcony that's 10 feet at least from the open side.

My hidden talent is taking pictures while driving.

p.s. Winners of the welcome give away announced this weekend!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I'm not the last picked for dodgeball

I entered a contest over at kind over matter and would you believe that I won? They asked for an image that showed love. I stole this one from my girl crush... Elsie: You should check out her flickr .elsie*cake. I have a girl crush for good reason, my friends. Check out some of these pictures:
Thank you kind over matter. :)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Author Interview: Elle Newmark

Today we have an interview with Elle Newmark the author of The Book of Unholy Mischief. You can visit Elle's website to learn more about her. Y'all can stop by her blog also.

What does your writing space look like?

I LOVE my writing space. It has evolved over the years from a corner of the kitchen table to a converted store room in the garage to a proper room with lots of natural light, carpeting, and grown-up furniture. I even have glass doors onto a private patio and garden. I work on a laptop so I never sit at my desk. I have a nice cushy chair and ottoman in a corner that takes in the mountain view. It's a pleasure to go to work in the morning. I'm very fortunate.

What is your writing process? Do you outline from start to finish or just write and see what comes next?

I have to start with something. I know some writers just sit down and start on page one, but I can't do that. I need a story idea, some notion of how to structure it, and I need the main characters. I usually write life histories of my main characters, even though I won't use that in the book. Sometimes I even sketch my characters. Anything to make them as rounded and real as possible. Details are what make characters come alive on the page, so I spend a lot of time getting to know my characters. The pay-off is that at a certain point they start helping to write the story. A situation comes up and I know that this character simply will or will not do a certain thing. That's when the writing really gets interesting. Do you have any writing rituals?
I always grab a cup of coffee on my way into the studio every morning, but I would think that's pretty universal. There's nothing that I would call a ritual, but I do have certain habits. I write all morning and then, in good weather, I force myself to take a walk. But I walk with a tape recorder. When I'm immersed in a book I'm writing it 24/7. I dream about it and think about it all the time. I also drive with a tape recorder. At first I tried to drive with a notebook, but that is a very very bad idea.

Is there anything you know now, as a published writer, that you wish you knew when you first started?

I am amazed to learn that it takes almost as much time and effort to promote a book as it does to write it. Since The Book of Unholy Mischief was published last December I've been on tour all over the U.S. and in Europe twice. I've also done a ton of interviews and written dozens of promotional pieces for magazines and websites. I squeezed in a research trip to India so I could finish my next book and it felt like a vacation.
These days, authors are expected to help promote their books. A lot of writers balk at this, but it's a losing battle. Publishing is a very competitive industry and authors who will not pitch in are going to get left behind. That's just how it is.

Did you know that your novel was going to be called The Book of Unholy Mischief when you were writing it or did that come later?

I actually self-published this book under the title Bones of The Dead. That title was taken from a line in the book: "Civilization is built on the bones of the dead." But my agent felt the title should be changed for a number of reasons and one day she called me and said, "How about The Book of Unholy Mischief?" Well, that's the title of the first chapter. I wrote it so it sounded OK to me. I said sure, she said fine, and that was that. That was the day I learned the meaning of a New York minute.

Who did you dedicate this book to and why?

I dedicated The Book of Unholy Mischief to teachers because one of the main characters is a kind of teacher/mentor, and the theme is the importance of passing on knowledge. Without teachers civilization would grind to a halt. Knowledge grows exponentially and passing it along is how we've been able to go from squatting in caves to sending e-mail. Teachers are the bedrock of society, and I don't think they get a fair shake. We give them our children and put the future in their hands and then we underpay them and take them for granted. It seemed appropriate that a book whose point is the importance of learning be dedicated to teachers.

Thanks so much Elle!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Change of Command

My husband took command of a company today. It's a pretty big deal because he hasn't been to his career course yet. He's pretty amazing and the hardest worker I've ever known. I'm so proud of him.Today is the day I start sharing my husband with 150 other men.

*sigh* Isn't he the cutest thing you've ever seen?

Then this evening we had a battalion FRG meeting. That basically means all the companies met to talk about things that are going on and coming up at the end of the year. I already have been called out as the commander's wife twice and he hasn't even had this company for 24 hours. I turned bright red both times. Not sure how I'm going to do with all this attention.

Monday, August 10, 2009


Welcome to Nikkilooch! I've been wanting to change my blog name for a while to something shorter and less angry. Because I'm shorter and less angry. Not really on the shorter part.

Why Nikkilooch? It's my husband's pet name for me and I love it. His family all call me that, too. I think it's so sweet and really makes me feel like part of their clan.

And now if you'd kindly direct your attention to the spankin' new, beautiful banner at the top of the page I'd like for you to take it in. Remember Sexton Day? My brother made this beautiful banner for me. The only direction I gave him was that I wanted it to have some kinda coffee in it and that I like hearts. He came up with that most lovely banner in a matter of not a long time. He's so nice to me. It has coffee and hearts. The two things I love most in this world. Well, maybe not most but in the top 25 or 50 at least.

There are going to be a lot more topics that I cover and things I include in this new blog: more pictures, art journal pages, more day to day life. I love seeing how other people live. It's the little peeks into their lives that make this online community really work. It makes you feel like you really know your internet friends even though you may have never heard their voice or given them a hug. I'm excited to document my life this way.

The give-aways:

The first give away is in honor of my new banner. It's a moka, espresso, and a small vase. Please note that the moka (espresso pot) pictured here is NOT the pot you will be getting. This one is my husband's and I'm pretty sure he'd show me how his AK-47 works if I ever gave it away. The winner will be getting a brand new shiny pot. The moka pictured here is a one cup and the one I'm giving away is a 3 cup. So not only is the winner's shiny it's also bigger. *pets your temper tantrum head*

I included the vase in case a non-coffee drinker (which if you are, please give it another chance coffee is lovely) wins the coffee prize. The little vase is from Nove not far from where I live. Nove is known for its ceramics. The store where I got this vase is known for providing ceramics for a little store called Williams Sonoma and a jewelry y'all may have heard of called Tiffany's.

Yeah. Good stuff. The next give-away is a book by my beloved Jill Mansell, Rumour Has It, and a journal. I love journals with elastic bands because they can hold in all the treasures you find as you write down what's important to you.

How to enter:
Just leave me a comment saying what you love about August. Contest ends Thursday, August 13th at midnight Central European Time. This contest is open to everyone on the planet. Please tell your friends.
I hope you, my loves, are as excited as I am.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Rest Falls Away

I just finished The Rest Falls Away by Colleen Gleason and it’s left me with mixed feelings. The first time I picked this book up I just couldn’t get into it. I could tell it was a good story, but it was getting on my nerves. All those “betwixt” and “whilst” words were throwing me off. It turned out that I needed to lay off the fiction for a while because when I came back to this book this weekend I tore through it. I did find myself skipping over a lot of the description towards the end so I could find out what happens. I’m not sure if that’s a writer or reader error.

I’m excited to start the second book in the series that I won from Nancy, but I think I’ll get bitter against the vocab again if read one right after the other. I enjoyed this first book but it didn't leave me craving more. It's like oreos for me. They are good, but every once in awhile is all I need to keep me happy. Maybe I'll feel differently after reading book #2.

I really want to get my hands on Julie and Julia before the movie comes out. So I’m going to stop by the library after work to see if they have a copy. It’s been on my wish list since I saw it on the shelves 2 years ago when I came home for Christmas.

I love kitchen/cooking memoirs. Well, I loved Cooking and Screaming.

Had any good summer reads?

me in green

I drew a picture of myself at work. I think it turned out pretty good.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Happy Sexton's Day!

A looooong time ago today my big brother got married.

Ok, so it wasn't THAT long ago. It was in 2000. But I was still in high school then and marriage seemed like it was never going to happen for me. I'm number 3 in the bride's maids line up by the way. I was so nice and tan. Now I'm Paley McPalerson. Oh, to be young and at the beach. My shorty pants sister is #4 and was 5 months pregnant with her first boy. My brother is by the far the tallest person in our family. My brother and his wife are both computer engineers. And they make beautiful children.

Happy Sexton's Day!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Morning walk

Last night was the first summer storm we've had. We had a long, drawn out, rainy spring. Then jumped into summer with both feet and haven't had a good summer storm in too long. My poor grass was very, very sad.

This was the view from my corner this morning at 8 am. It was cool, overcast. Perfect for walking.

As I was following my usual path it started to clear up. One of the neat things about a good hard rain is the view of the hills the next day. Usually the humid weather surrounds my lowland town in a constant haze. But the morning after a lovely rain, clears things right up.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

6th time's the charm

I've been having a hard time settling on a book lately. I've even come close to finishing one and it just hasn't happened. But I think Colleen Gleason's The Rest Falls Away (which I started when I got in back in March or April) has finally hooked me in.

Happy Saturday. :)